Long covid research and more daily news

Bloomberg reports on research which finds that Covid may persist in the gut and, by inference, in other organs, for months. This is explored as a source of some of the symptoms of long-Covid, an over-arching term for all symptoms that last beyond the initial infection rather than a single discrete disorder:

In the largest study tracking SARS-CoV-2 RNA in feces and Covid symptoms, scientists at California’s Stanford University found that about half of infected patients shed traces of the virus in their waste in the week after infection and almost 4% patients still emit them seven months later. The researchers also linked coronavirus RNA in feces to gastric upsets, and concluded that SARS-CoV-2 likely directly infects the gastrointestinal tract, where it may hide out.

Partners Life announce Client Engagement Team, and more daily news

Partners Life has announced expanded scope of service of the Client Engagement Team. The team was established to help advisers with customer retention and payment regulation. Recently Partners Life has decided to offer training and support to ensure the team becomes the first Nominated Representatives for Partners Life. The team will be responsible for providing customers with support regarding pricing issues and policy retention. The team will offer customers quotes for alternative Partners Life products and other retention options such as Premium Holidays and Policy Suspensions. Partners Life has made clear that advisers will be involved in the process. Advisers have the option of opting their clients out of this service. Advisers that have opted out of the current services of the team will automatically be opted out.

“A few years ago, we established our Client Engagement Team to assist our advisers with customer retention and arrears. To date they have done a fantastic job!

Throughout this time however, the team have had very little scope to have truly constructive conversations with clients due to the limitations of the type of financial advice they could give.

With the recent legislative changes, we have identified an opportunity to provide the appropriate training and support to our Client Engagement Team, enabling them to become the very first Nominated Representatives for Partners Life. This means they can begin to have robust conversations with our clients regarding affordability issues, while also being able to discuss all possible options available for the clients to keep their cover in place. This can range from providing quotes for alterations or discussing other retention options within our Partners Life products, such as Premium Holidays or Policy Suspensions.

The team will be limited to discussions around affordability of select Partners Life products only, and we will ensure we involve you as our client’s financial adviser. We will refer your clients to you in the first instance and keep you involved in all communications. In fact, if you would prefer that we don’t have these conversations with your clients, then you can choose to opt out of this offering.

Our Nominated Representative service will replace the existing arrears management service our Client Engagement Team currently offer. If you have already actively opted out of the existing service, you will automatically be excluded from the Nominated Representative service and will need to advise us if you wish to now be included in the Nominated Representative service. All other advisers will automatically be included in the new offering, and you will need to advise us if you wish to be excluded.” Click here to read more

In other news

AIA: Policy letters now available through SovLink and Insight

mySolutions: from 1 July 2021 all qualified commissions (FAPO) payable by all the major insurers to be bundled into adviser commission package. They have also made a strong commitment that they will not become a FAP or 'compete' with advisers. 

Financial Advice: Getting Back to our Regions

Financial Advice: Bring in the Experts - Economist Tony Alexander - Budget Update






Themes for 2021 in life and health insurance

What will be the big themes for 2021 for life and health insurance? 

  • Helping people keep their cover through disruption will continue to be a theme - although economic performance has been better than expected there remain quite a few people out there struggling with adjustment to the COVID economy. Several advisers tell me of long conversations that are essentially about conservation. They take time and they generate little revenue - this largely unsung work is of a piece with claims help and is part of the value of the commission model: the adviser isn't expecting to charge a fee for these discussions, they just want to help the client stay covered. 
  • The shift towards digital - within advice businesses, at insurers, and for consumers. Digital is an enabler of faster transactions, more efficient administration, better accuracy, and more meaningful engagement. More adviser businesses will develop better digital capability and be looking for ways to automate certain processes. That includes digital advice offerings. It also means better underwriting processes built around access to 
  • Direct - it has shown solid growth - and not merely as a proportion of the market which has shrunk, but in absolute terms. It has benefitted from a big drop in bancassurance and a big push through online social media platforms. I really want to see the quality of the offers improved in 2021, but that will probably require more work in the area above to achieve. 
  • Regtech - this is the year we begin to see regtech applied to insurer and adviser conduct programmes - analysis of all clients by a range of factors will be a vital complement to human-managed compliance processes.
  • Transition - to the new advice regime means that a lot of advisers will be spending a bit more time than usual working on systems, new processes, and disclosure requirements. That will hit productivity for a few weeks. Combined with holidays, will the nadir be the first quarter production figures with a recovery from there, or will the second quarter be the low point? I am expecting recovery and more confidence to recruit and focus on marketing to be able to get traction in at least the third quarter. 
  • Consolidation - adviser business size is definitely rising. The greater integration and co-ordination required to successfully meet new compliance requirements is reflected in the high number of authorised body structures being disclosed by FMA licensing statistics. 
  • Consumer knowledge and understanding will continue to rise as more advisers share relevant content in easily digestible digital media. Gradually the focus on what is most relevant and readily explainable will begin to percolate through consumer finance forums changing the general perception of 'good' this will further current consumer trends towards more living products and more packages of benefits. 



Financial adviser network raises capital and more trends in digital for advisers

The XY Adviser network (https://www.xyadviser.com/) is a popular place for financial advisers to trade news, talk about events, and get help and support. I know several New Zealand-based advisers that love the forum and have learned many useful new ideas from their peers through it. Other groupings, collegiate groups ranging from informal breakfast clubs, through service networks, to LinkedIn groups abound. But the shift to digital broadens the reach of networks considerably. Network effects mean that the bigger the network, the more valuable it is. Hence, the profound impact digital is having on adviser businesses. Two trends are moving in parallel - from installed software to web-based systems, alongside formal knowledge sharing in person to digital knowledge sharing in an informal context. Those changes in digital are having real-world effects: adviser businesses are able to access software solutions from around the world with more confidence due to the reference expertise that these social networks provide. One kind of growth creates another: XY is in the process of raising capital, such are the demands on their services. 

If the world of adviser technology interests you, do join me, with David Greenslade of Strategi on the FSC Get In Shape series hosted by Mark Banicevich. We're talking about all things adviser technology tomorrow at 10am. Here is a link to the events page on the FSC website: https://www.fsc.org.nz/Events.html if you would like to register for the webinar. 

Daily news update: Senior management restructure for Lifetime Group, and more stories

Lifetime Group have announced that they are making several strategic changes that will see a change in their business focus and senior management team. Peter Cave has said that because Lifetime is looking to focus on the team based in Christchurch, GM of advice Jon O’Connor will be leaving at the end of June. Aaron Bowkett will be leaving his role at Apex to take on Jon’s current role. Sarah Fawcett is set to join Lifetime as the new chief financial officer.

“Managing director Peter Cave said the business had been through significant restructuring over the past 18 months and the next phase of that would see Jon O’Connor leave his role.

Lifetime wanted to focus on the team in Christchurch and centralise the senior management team there to be geared up for the future, he said.

O’Connor is based in Tauranga.

O’Connor said he would finish up in his role on June 30 and he was still deciding what his next step would be. He is to be replaced by Aaron Bowkett, who is currently with Apex Advice.”

Although Lifetime moved from an independent-contractor model to an employee model when Camelot and Lifetime merged, the group has seen a 20% drop in adviser numbers in the last 12 months.

“Peter Cave, managing director, said the strategy adopted after the merger was to pursue an employee model, to best position the group for the new licensing regime.

Lifetime had had an independent-contractor model before that.

“We also implemented our ‘advice for life’ client engagement philosophy during the same period.

“The objective was to position the adviser team for the future and invite those that wanted to come on the journey, to adopt the changes.”

But he said the net result had been the loss of some advisers.

“We have experienced just over 20% reduction in our adviser team over 12 months, made up of those we didn’t offer contracts to; those that left with their clients to set up their own businesses; and those that either retired or left the industry.” Click here to read more

In other news:

Cigna: Treena Jordan joins Cigna as Product Manger, specialising in business products

Why advisers should use handwritten notes, texts and mail

Which advisers should attend the FSC conference in September?

Always there are pressures on time and money and choices have to be made. Most advisers should probably think of the Financial Advice New Zealand conference in August first, and then decide whether to add the Financial Services Council conference in September. These people in particular should all take a good look at the FSC programme and add that in to your diary: dealer group heads, advisers business owners with ten plus staff, adviser business compliance leaders, and national sales managers.

The content that makes the difference in your decision-making is on both main stage and in the communities of interest workshops.

Main stage we have an extensive panel of ministers in government and opposition, the heads of RBNZ and FMA, and regulators - as well as some amazing personal stories.

In the communities of interest there is the dealer group lunch, with exclusive access to FMA and MBIE leaders. I would also recommend the session on reconciling competing client goals and objectives, which features leading advisers and technologists. Consider adding in a session from the underwriting stream, and of course, ensure you return to the main stage for the close of the day.

There are more speakers being announced all the time, but over thirty are listed at this link

The entire conference is worthwhile attending, but if it helps to reconcile your time pressure you can pack the content above into just one day if you like, and just pay the single day rate.

Check out the programme at this link. Register at this link